Paulina DiFatta completed her redshirt freshman season at Fairfield University this year, in which she played and started in all 20 games, leading Fairfield to the NCAA tournament. For her efforts, Paulina was named MAAC All-Rookie Team, MAAC All-Championship Team, Three-time MAAC Defensive Player of the Week, and Two-time MAAC Rookie of the Week. She also set a Fairfield program record and ranked second in Division I with 211 saves. Her .512 save percentage was sixth in the nation and the seventh-best mark in program history. Now, Paulina will look to continue her success at Elon University this fall.
Paulina is from Dix Hills, NY where she attended Half Hollow Hills West High School, where she played lacrosse and basketball and captained both teams. In the classroom, she was the Treasurer of the National Business Honor Society and the Future Business Leaders of America. She also held the position as the Vice President of The Competition Committee for DECA. DiFatta took first place at the Brain Tank Competition at Briarcliffe College, second place at the Half Hollow Hill King of The Hill Business Competition, second at the DECA New York State Competition, and 6th at the International Competition.
Read more to learn from Paulina.
How long have you been playing goalie/lacrosse?
I have been playing lacrosse since I was in 1stgrade but it wasn’t until 5thgrade that I became a goalie.
What drew you to the position?
Before I became a lacrosse goalie I was a soccer goalie, so one day I decided to ask my lacrosse coach if I could try out being a lacrosse goalie. As soon as I stepped in net for the first time I knew this was the position for me.
What’s your favorite part about playing the position now?
My favorite part of playing goalie is making those big saves in a game that convert into a goal for my team. I think that a great save gives my teammates a spark that can turn a game around.
What’s the hardest part about the position for you? How do you try to manage or handle that aspect?
The hardest part of the goalie position is definitely the mental aspect of letting a goal in. I personally try to learn from how the goal went in and then make adjustments. As a goalie, the best advice I got was to have a short-term memory in cage. If a goal goes in learn from it and focus on making the next save.
In close games how do you stay focused?
In close games, I stay completely focused on the ball and concentrate on the things I can control such as communicating to my defensive line and making sure I am in the right position.
Can you discuss any challenges you faced and how you overcame them? (I.e. lack playing time, injury, time management, etc)
Over my years of playing lacrosse, I have seen a lot of challenges. I have torn both my ACLs and had to learn to never give up on yourself. My first knee injury was going into my sophomore year of high school. I had to sit out from a lot of recruiting events and missed opportunities because of that. But most recently I tore my 2ndACL in October 2016, right after fall-ball. I missed my first season and had to take a medical red-shirt. I believe these two events have made me the player that I am today, for the better. I had the chance to sit back and see the game from a different perspective. I have a bigger appreciation for lacrosse that makes me want to be better every day.
What’s the best part about playing in college? Favorite college lacrosse memory?
The best part of playing in college is being a part a team because it is something bigger than you, everyone on that field is trying to accomplish the same goals as you and it makes you want to be better.
If you committed early, how did you stay motivated to keep getting better? How do you stay motivated now in the offseason?
When I committed the end of my sophomore year I felt like that motivated me even more because now you feel like you’re not just representing yourself out there on the field, you are representing your future college as well. You want to make your future coaches proud.
Do you have a favorite drill or one that has helped you the most in goal, with and without someone else?
My favorite drill to do specifically by myself is “wall ball” with a field player’s stick. This helps with hand-eye coordination and really focusing on getting your head behind the ball.
Where do you think you have grown the most in your game from high school to college and how did you do it?
College is a different atmosphere, shooters are much smarter and shots are a lot faster. I have always been a fan of improving my hand-eye coordination and putting the emphasis on letting your hands do the work. With that being said, in high school, I was a goalie who took a few steps off my line when a shooter approached. In college, I benefit more from staying back and focusing on the ball so players just don’t shoot around you.
My pre-game ritual consists of listening to music (specifically my SoundCloud!!!), juggling and focusing on the game.
Anything else you think young goalies would find helpful if they’re trying to play in college?
Enjoy the process! The road to playing in college is not easy but the journey is so worth it.